The National Sheep Association (NSA) has today welcomed the news of rule changes for the ageing of sheep for SRM removal, with Ministers today announcing that the existing method of checking for tooth eruption can be changed to an agreed calendar date, and that this date will now be 30 June. This aligns with other accepted definitions of when a sheep is 12 months of age, namely in the rules for sheep EID.
NSA chief executive Phil Stocker says: “Finally, in 2019, the UK sheep industry will be able say goodbye to toothing old season lambs as a way of determining age and whether carcasses need to be split. As from 2019 Ministers have agreed that we will move away from tooth eruption to a set calendar date of the 30th June, before which no lambs will need to be checked or spilt, and after which all old season lambs will need to split and with SRM material removed.
“This is a major step forward that follows some four years of intensive data gathering and positioning by NSA and NFU and with the involvement of all relevant industry bodies. It’s an example of what can be achieved to benefit the industry by organisations working together, and an example too of what can be done through constructive and supportive working between industry and regulators. We estimate that checking for tooth eruption has cost the UK sheep industry some £24 million a year in time and reduced value. It’s an imprecise method that has led to uncertainty and has made it difficult for finishers to plan buying and feeding regimes.”
NSA is pleased that the industry’s hard work and Defra’s decision means that from 2019 the move to a date cut off will provide real certainty, allow finishers to plan, and should minimise the numbers of lambs needing to be split.